Lot 50
  • 50

A GOLD AND ENAMEL SNUFF BOX, ATTRIBUTED TO JOHAN HENRIK BRONDLUND, COPENHAGEN, BUT POSSIBLY RETAILED BY JAMES BELLIS, LONDON, CIRCA 1765 |

Estimate
40,000 - 60,000 EUR
Sold
bidding is closed

Description

  • 7 cm, 2 3/4 in wide
rectangular with shaped sides, the lid, sides and base decorated in brightly-coloured opaque and translucent green enamels with blue ribbon-tied bouquets of full-blown summer flowers on a finely-reeded and rayed ground, the lid mount and slightly everted thumbpiece chased with waved reeding, maker's mark only in lid, base and on left rim, in silk-lined shagreen case

Catalogue Note

Although this box is marked only with a maker’s mark – IB  a rose between in a butterfly-shaped rectangle – it is remarkably similar in design and construction to a gold and enamel snuff box in the Danish Museum of Art & Design, Copenhagen. That box, also rectangular and decorated with brightly-coloured painted enamel flowers on a chased vannerie ground, is struck with the marks of Jacob Henrichsen Möinichen, Copenhagen, 1758 (Bo Bramsen, Nordiske Snusdåser, Copenhagen, 1965, no. 661, colour plate). A further gold box of the same year, with a maker’s mark possibly of Jacob Stoundre, is in the form of a gold basket and also decorated with vivid coloured enamel flowers (Anna Somers Cocks & Charles Truman, The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, Renaissance jewels, gold boxes, etc., London, 1984, no. 102). Johan Henrik Brøndlund is described as coming from Sjælland and becoming master in Copenhagen on 14 October 1765. He died on the Danish Caribbean island of St Croix in 1773. His registered maker’s mark is very similar but not identical to the present mark but it is possible that he would have used a slightly different mark for gold  to that on silver. Eighteenth century Danish gold boxes are so very rare that it is not possible to establish what was customary since each example appears to have been marked in a different fashion.

It has also been suggested that the mark might be one used by the superior but elusive London jeweller, toyman and retailer, James Bellis. James and Alexander Bellis, sons of Samuel, the vicar of Ashton-on-Mersey, near Manchester, were born respectively in 1721 and 1724 and both became London goldsmiths. James’s premises in King Street, Covent Garden, were largely destroyed in a terrible fire which consumed 30 or 40 houses and killed several firefighters on December 1759. In January 1760 James tried to recover some of his missing goods, through notices in The Public Advertiser saying he will ‘handsomely reward for their Trouble’ anyone who recovers and of his collection of ‘sundry Toys, as Smelling Bottles, Snuff-boxes and other Trinkets, the Particulars of which he cannot at present recollect’. Perhaps as a result of this, in order to recognise his varied stock rather than as a maker himself since he was very clearly a wealthy and successful retailer who later moved to spacious premises in Pall Mall, in May of the same year he entered a butterfly-shaped maker’s mark very similar again to that on the present box. For a snuff box of similar construction, enamelled with a vase of flowers in similar taste, the rim inscribed: Jas. Bellis Londn. fecit, see Vanessa Brett, Bertrand’s Toyshop in Bath, Luxury Retailing 1685-1765, 2014, ill. p. 215.

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